My Top Ten Directors: Four Years Later

I started this blog in 2008 (I think I’ve said this before). My first post ever was a review of Southland Tales. However, short after I thought a great way to give my readers – all two of you – would be to post a list of my top ten filmmakers (Part 1 & Part 2) at the time. The list was:

  1. Steven Speilberg
  2. Quentin Tarantino
  3. Michel Gondry
  4. Martin Scorsese
  5. Joel & Ethan Coen
  6. Hayao Miyazaki
  7. Spike Lee
  8. Edgar Wright
  9. Christopher Nolan
  10. Mel Brooks

It’s been more than four years since that post was released into the wild which followed with comments and tweets about my obvious lack of exposure to a lot of great filmmakers, which I admit to. To this day I still believe that there are a lot of filmmakers I’m yet to truly delve into. Up until a couple weeks ago I still hadn’t seen a film starring or by Charlie Chaplin. So even whatever I decide to list below will only serve as a tentative “so far” list and no more.

However, before I get to revising this list I want to take a moment to say that it feels really good to be revisiting this part of me. Almost half a year ago I recorded a podcast with my co-hosts discussing out Top Ten Films of All Time, yes I took it seriously and did my best, and already six months after the fact I can probably name a score of films that could probably be in contention for the same list. So when I say that I’m still finding more and more films and filmmakers to love please take this list with enough salt to just see it as insight into my own very quirky love of movies.

Last thing before we get into this list I made a few rules. This time around I refused to include any filmmakers who hasn’t been making films (professionally) for less than a decade and must have at least five credits to his name. So as much as I’d love to talk Rian Johnson and Duncan Jones to death they’re unavailable for this list and will need more work to fully appreciate them. This is for the very same reason why I refuse to discuss the latest summer blockbuster in the context of “is it the best movie ever made” as everyone on the internet tends to go off about.

Just before we go, this list is not ranked in any order other than alphabetical and I will pair the director with my favourite film of his:

  • Alfred Hitchcock: North by Northwest
  • Akira Kurosawa: High & Low
  • Darren Aronofsky: The Fountain
  • David Fincher: Zodiac
  • Martin Scorsese: Raging Bull
  • Paul Thomas Anderson: Magnolia
  • Spike Jonze: Being John Malkovich
  • Steven Spielberg: E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
  • Steven Soderbergh: Traffic
  • Terrence Malick: Badlands

These are all directors that no matter how questionable, obtuse, or unattractive their upcoming film is I will tack it onto my must watch list because they are all filmmakers that I admire unabashedly.

Who’re your favourite filmmakers of all time?

  • Ryan McNeil

    Crazy how much our tastes can change in just a few years, eh?

    To the question at hand, my ten would go as follows…

    Pedro Almodovar
    Coen Brothers
    Guillermo del Toro
    Terrence Malick
    Michael Mann
    Christopher Nolan
    Martin Scorsese
    Steven Soderbergh
    Steven Spielberg
    Billy Wilder

  • Andrew Robinson

    It is very strange how we all “grow up” into tastes. Kind of like looking back as a child how we would complain about the broccoli we would be forced to eat with dinner. Now I enjoy it. So.. comments on filmmakers you bring up:

    Billy Wilder & Almodovar are filmmakers who could one day make my list, but as it stands I don’t feel I’ve seen enough of their work to comment. Especially Almodovar, I’ve only seen his latest film.

    All the names that existed in my previous list still hold a special place in my heart and are honourable mentions (except maybe Spike Lee, he and I are in a rough place right now).

    Christoper Nolan is one of those I’d follow to the ends of the earth, but somehow (maybe it’s a he’s popular thing, I dunno) I felt the need to exclude him from the list. I’d like to say that the ones I brought up are a bit more visually appealing and don’t try to overreach so much, like Nolan does with his lackluster action scenes, but I dunno.

    Guillermo Del Toro is the kind of filmmaker I want to love. I think sometimes if I were the right kind of film geek I’d see him as either a Sam Raimi or a Edgar Wright, but he doesn’t hit me on all cylinders like those two do.

    Michael Mann and I have a special weird understanding. I don’t understand this truly, but for some reason I hate all of his movies the first time I watch them, then love them on follow up viewings. No clue, but that’s just how it is. Even for Heat.

  • Steven Flores

    Let’s see…

    1. Sofia Coppola
    2. Lars von Trier
    3. Gus Van Sant
    4. Sergio Leone
    5. Terrence Malick
    6. Lynne Ramsay
    7. Quentin Tarantino
    8. Wong Kar-Wai
    9. David Cronenberg
    10. Wes Anderson

    My list has changed over the years as well.  There’s just a lot more that is out there and it’s likely to change as well.  Part of the reasons I do my monthly Auteurs piece is to check out filmmakers whose work I’m familiar with or those I don’t know about but have the eagerness to check out their films if they’re available on TV or anywhere else.  Next month is Nicolas Winding Refn as there’s five films of his I’m going to watch as I’ve only seen his last three films.

  • Andrew Robinson

    Sofia Coppola was on my list but I took her off because of the criteria I set (needing at least 5 credits). Nicolas Winding Refn was also a name I considered, but I’ve only seen Bronson & Drive at this point and not enough to truly judge.

    Lars and I are in a love/hate relationship right now. I love the movies, but hate the way they make me feel.

    Gus Van Sant is fantastic.

    Wong Kar-Wai I haven’t seen enough. Only seen one of his movies and wasn’t a big fan.

  • Bondo

    I like the old list better. :-P I’m due for an annual update on my list but approximately here’s my top ten in alpha order:

    Andrea Arnold
    Danny Boyle
    Catherine Breillat
    Alfonso Cuaron
    Jean Pierre Jeunet
    John Cameron Mitchell
    Hayao Miyazaki
    Christopher Nolan
    Steven Spielberg
    Lois Weber

  • Andrew Robinson

    Why do you like the old list better? Odd.

    So many in your list I’ve never even seen a film from yet. Lois Webber & Catherine Breillat I’ve not seen anything from. Andrea Arnold I’ve only seen Fish Tank and Jean Pierre Jeunet I’ve only seen Amelie (love that to death), and moments of Alien Ressurection (but I’m sure we all forget that one).

    John Cameron Mitchell I loved Hedwig and liked Rabbit Hole. Yet to see Shortbus.

    Alfonso Cuaron & Danny Boyle are filmmakers I adore (Children of Men & Sunshine are two of my favourite films).

    Hayao Miyazaki is someone I still consider to be a favourite of mine, but has been inched out of the top ten over the years (Nausicaa remains my favourite of his)

    That’s a solid list thought Bondo. Now I have more filmmakers to take time and explore their work.

  • Bondo

    Well I don’t really like Kurosawa, Malick, PTA or Jonze. I don’t hate all of their films by any means (and you picked my favorite from each) but I have issues with their relative styles. And you dropped Tarantino, Miyazaki, Wright and Nolan, all of whom would be in my top-20, to put them in. The rest of the swaps are pretty much a push for me.